Speakers Program

Backcountry festival speaker’s program

2020 program

We will again be hosting a speakers program during the festival. This year it will be spread over two afternoons (Friday September 4 and Saturday September 5).

Details will be announced here once we confirm speakers and times.

2019 program

As part of the 2019 backcountry festival, we are hosting an extended speaker’s program. This will happen on the afternoon of Saturday September 7, upstairs at The General, Mt Hotham.

Sessions will cover a range of backcountry culture and mountain related topics. The program will run from midday to 4pm (and will be followed by a ski in outdoor bar from 4 – 6pm). You’re welcome to pop on for the sessions that interest you – but please be mindful of noise.

All welcome. Entry by donation. Family friendly.

Facebook page for the event available here.

Check below for the program. We have a few more things coming, so times will vary slightly before we get to the final program.

MerrinThe speakers program will be moderated by Merrin Jokic.

Merrin has been skiing at Mt Hotham since 1997, now a passionate snowboarder, you will find her at home in the mountains. Merrin has ski toured with Bill Barker in Gulmarg, India, the last 5 winters and is excited to be part of the Backcountry Festival this year.


12 noon Intro from MC Merrin Jokic


12.10 The perfect backcountry boot.

Ted Suurkivi is the head boot fitter at One Tree Sports. He is a keen backcountry skier and will offer a session outlining the latest in boots and bindings for the backcountry, plus the most common issues like cramping arches, blisters on the heels, etc. He will explain what work that can be done on ski and snowboard boots. eg, footbeds, liners and how they all customized to the feet to give maximum comfort, performance and less fatigue for longer tours and more aggressive downhill performance.

BYO boots for assessment.

12.30 Bringing the mountain pygmy possum back from the brink of extinction.

GeorginaGeorgina Boardman – Mt Hotham resort management

The Victorian alpine areas are significant protected landscapes full of high environmental values – getting out into the backcountry is all about appreciating the alps.  Georgina Boardman heads the environment team at the Mount Hotham Alpine Resort Management Board.

Georgina will talk about the landscape, the Boards role working with other land managers to protect the alps and several recent projects within Mt Hotham.  The Mountain Pygmy Possum is the most recognised of the threatened alpine fauna and super lovable as well. Georgina will give insights into recent work to improve MPP habitat including a new version of the Tunnel of Love at Little Higginbotham and the monitoring program that will, hopefully, reveal its long term success.

Read about her work here.

Bev Lawrence from Hotham Resort Management will also be presenting.

12.50 Melissa Clarke –  Touring in the NSW backcountry

melissa clarke1Melissa is a keen backcountry skier from Canberra and will be chatting about where you can start your exploration of the New South Wales backcountry. Whether you’re hunting for steep lines, seeking a classic touring route, or just after the side-country powder stashes, the Main Range has it all. Melissa will also discuss some of her adventurous multi-day trips skiing and camping in the Kosciuszko National Park and building a pulk (sled) for hauling gear.

1.10 Simon MurrayMountain Sports Collective

SimonMSC is the Australian backcountry users group. It produces the Backcountry Conditions Bulletin, maps and a range of courses and events like this festival.


1.20 Mark Frost, Ambulance Victoria – First Aid and rescue in the backcountry
1.40 ‘Girls Who Split’ Information and Q&A Session

With Kelly van den Berg, Mia Walker and Lisse Dunser.

MiaCome and share the adventures and tales of three split boarding gals across diverse ages as they tell their stories from various destinations around the world and the experiences of women in the backcountry. The girls will also bring in their personal gear to talk about, ranging from split boarding basics, avalanche and safety gear, communications and navigation to snowboarding mountaineering equipment.

Mia, who is 15, will talk about her backcountry splitboarding adventures in the VIC Alps and Colorado.




2.10 Tim Macartney-Snape45 years of Back Country skiing: from pioneering steep Aussie drops on Tele Skis to the highest mountains on earth.

Tim will talk about the early days Tele skiing in Oz then using skis on his climbing trips to the Himalaya and skiing in Hokkaido.


2.30 Katya Crema – ‘getting into the backcountry’

Katya2Katya will talk about her transition from an Olympian ski cross racer to backcountry adventurer.

2.50 Bill Barkerthe History of Avalanches at Hotham, and the known trouble spots.

Mt_Fitzroy_PatagoniaBill is the director of the Mt Hotham ski patrol and has years of experience on The Hill and the surrounding side and backcountry.

3.15 Buff Farnellimages of the Hotham BC/ sidecountry.

KarlGrayMedia_Buff_August 06, 2017_1Hotham legend Buff will show a selection of his favourite images of the Hotham BC/ sidecountry.

3.40 Josh FletcherProtect Our Winters

POW was founded by professional snowboarder Jeremy Jones in 2007. POW aims to turn passionate outdoor people into effective climate advocates. Josh will introduce POW Australia.

3.45 Ash Peplow Ballmobilising the winter sports community on climate change

AshAustralian’s ski resorts are on the front line of climate change impact. Resorts across the alps are already doing great work on climate adaptation, but there is a lot more we can be doing to prevent runaway climate damage.

The good news is that we have a lot of power as individuals, and even more power when we work together as a broader snow-loving community. We will be chatting about how you can get started if you want to get active in protecting the places we love for future generations to enjoy.

4.00 Finish and head to the outdoor bar. Catch the village bus and then ski in. Details here.